In helping the Israel Defense Forces game out a number of different strategies to defeat Hamas in Gaza, US military advisers sent to Israel are invoking lessons learned specifically from Fallujah in 2004, one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq War.
Instead of launching a full-scale ground assault on Gaza, which could endanger hostages, civilians and further inflame tensions in the region, US military advisers are calling on Israelis to use a combination of precision airstrikes and targeted special operations raids.
They are also drawing on strategies developed during the battle by US-led coalition forces to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh, which relied more heavily on special operations forces. Daesh built tunnels throughout Mosul and used civilians as human shields, and the fight to retake the city was harder and more drawn-out than anticipated.
To help deliver this message, the Joe Biden administration has sent a three-star Marine Corps general to counsel the IDF on planning its tactical assault. Lt. Gen. James Glynn, the former commander of Marine Forces Special Operations Command, has significant experience with urban warfare in Iraq, particularly in Fallujah, where he commanded troops during some of the bloodiest fighting there between US forces and insurgents, officials stated.
Since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, the US has grown increasingly concerned that Israel’s strategy to move into Gaza with a large number of ground troops is only half-baked and could lead to a bloody and indefinite occupation by Israeli forces in the Gaza strip, officials added.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told an audience of Israeli troops Tuesday that Israel must destroy Hamas and warned that the war is still in its early stages.
“Prepare for the tasks to come, the war is just starting. And unfortunately, we’ll have to pay a price,” Gallant said.
“Prepare well, be ready — physically and mentally, with equipment and means. We’ll get to the field and will destroy Hamas. Literally. Otherwise, we couldn’t exist here,” he added.
Gallant comments came as he spoke on Tuesday to Sayeret Matkal, an elite commando unit of the Israeli army.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to tell soldiers on Tuesday a ground offensive was still on track amid a growing sense of military delay.
“We stand before the next stage, it is coming,” the prime minister told the Israel Defense Forces’ Yahalom unit on Tuesday, according to a press release from Netanyahu’s office.
“You know it and you are part of it; you are part of the vanguard.”
The Yahalom unit is a special unit of the Combat Engineering Corps and is trained to deal with special engineering tasks, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) website.
The press release added Netanyahu was briefed on the unit’s recent activity and on its preparation for the future during a visit at the IDF Immanuel Base.
“We have only one mission – to smash Hamas. We will not stop until we complete it, with your help. I rely on you; the people of Israel rely on you. I am proud of you and I salute you,” Netanyahu said as he met with troops.
Netanyahu went on to say that Israel is “striking the enemy with great force.”
“Yesterday, in our attacks in Gaza, we struck the enemy the harshest blow they have taken in a single day. We killed dozens of terrorists, possibly even more. At this very moment, we are clarifying the exact magnitude of the strike,” Netanyahu continued, adding, “However, we also know that even as we are active in additional sectors in the north, we are hitting whoever tries to attack us, in Judea and Samaria as well,” he added, using biblical names to reference the West Bank.
The press release added that Netanyahu was shown some munitions that Hamas brought into Israel, which were seized by the Yahalom unit and given to its National Center for Neutralizing Ammunition.